Presentation on theme: "POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections"— Presentation transcript:
1POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections Voting BehaviorPOLS 125: Political Parties & Elections“I never vote for anyone. I always vote against.”—W.C. Fields ( )
2Models of Voting Behavior Sociological – Vote choice is a function of group membership.Socio-Psychological – Vote choice is the product of long-standing identifications.Strategic – Vote choice is a function of the spatial distance between a voter’s policy preferences and the candidate’s issue position.
3What is Group Identification? SELF-CATEGORIZATION: Self-awareness of one’s objective membership in a groupAFFINITY: Psychological sense of attachment to the group
4Examples… African-American Working class Single Mom College student RepublicanEnvironmentalistCatholicSenior CitizenThese identities are often ACTIVATED by political parties and their candidates.
7Gender Politics Soccer Moms Security Moms Waitress Moms “Sex and the City” singlesThe angry white maleOffice park DadsNASCAR Dads
8Dem takes heat over NASCAR immunization WASHINGTON (CNN) – Congressional Republicans Thursday seized on a Democrat's recent suggestion that his aides get immunized before attending NASCAR events, claiming such a recommendation shows a "disconnect" with America.Asking in a press release whether Democrats are "allergic to NASCAR nation," the National Republican Congressional Committee wrote, "While red-blooded, patriotic Americans were packing their coolers and gathering their families in preparation of attending last week’s race at Talladega, a leading Democrat was advising staff to get immunized.""Democrats should know that there is no preventive measure yet designed to ward off the blue-collar values and patriotism that NASCAR fans represent," said Linda Daves, the chairwoman of the North Carolina Republican Party. "If they aren't careful, they just might catch some of it."
10Why should there be a “gender gap”? Physical and sociological differences?Different political priorities?Different policy preferences?
11Trends in Partisan Identification Among Women, 1952-2004
12Trends in Partisan Identification Among Men, 1952-2004
13Party Strengths Among Male and Female Voters “Which political party do you thinkwould do a better job?”ISSUEMENWOMENHandling the nation’s economyR by 8% pointsD by 10% pointsHandling foreign affairsR by 20% pointsD by 2% pointsMaking health care more affordableD by 26% pointsD by 42% pointsReforming the welfare systemR by 11% pointsD by 17% pointsHandling the problem of povertyD by 23% pointsD by 34% pointsHandling the budget deficitR by 14% pointsHandling the problem of pollutionand the environmentD by 32% pointsD by 33% pointsDealing with the crime problemR by 12% pointsD by 5% points
14Top 10 Signs You’re a Security Mom Your attack dog has a bin Laden chew toy.You base your SUV purchase on how many places there are to conceal a weapon.Your neighborhood watch complains you don’t leave any perps for them.You’ll vote for Bush because the other guy is a wussy.You traded in your Gucci for the M-30 Leather Gun Purse.The guys at the range call you ‘Sarge’.You send your kids to Judo Camp.Your son quits the Boy Scouts because they were “amateurs”. (MP personal favorite)Monday is “MRE Night”.You DO wear combat boots.
15Identity Politics, 2008 Identity Politics, 2008 Did blacks support Barack Obama?Did women support Sarah Palin?
18"Next, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people — or if you have never heard of them… Sarah Palin."
19It turns out that the biggest deal about racial and gender identity in the campaign is that, especially to younger Americans who live and work in a vastly changed country, it isn’t such a very big deal after all.”— Matt Bai, “Retro Identity Politics”vs.“What are we left with, then, as the identity-politics election of 2008 comes to a close? We have a Republican Party more committed than ever to a fetishized picture of working-class white maleness and unthreatening womanhood. We have a Democratic Party freshly aware of how difficult it is to look honestly at the history and reality of race and gender -- but also aware of how powerful those forces are. We've elected our first African American president, but we've done more than that. We've opened up a rawer, more meaningful national conversation about identity than we've had since the heyday of the civil-rights and women's lib movements. Race, gender, and their discontents haven't gone away. The fact that we're talking about them again? That's progress.”— Dana Goldstein, “The Identity Politics Election”
20What happens when social identities collide? Identity Politics, 2008"Oprah is a Traitor!!!""For the first time in history we actually have a chance at putting a woman in the white house and Oprah backs the black MAN. She's choosing her race over her gender – hypocrisy at its finest!!”What happens when social identities collide?
22Racial Resentment?“There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”— Jimmy Carter
23“The Latin Swing”Political consultants use the term Latin Swing to refer to middle class Latino voters who are not the loyal Democrats many people assume they are.This is an important trend. Why? Because the Latino population is growing, especially in states with large electoral college votes, such as California and Texas. In 2000,31% of Latino voters with incomes under $30,000 voted for Bush.37% of Latino voters with incomes between $30,000 and $75,000 voted for Bush.46% of Latino voters with incomes above $75,000 voted for Bush.
26The Youth VoteThere are 43 million U.S. citizens between the ages64% of year old citizens are registered to vote.18-30 year olds make up 24% of total pool of eligible voters.The youth vote increased by 4.6 million in Voters under the age of 30 made up 17% of the electorate in 2004—roughly the same proportion as in 2000.In 2004, young voters preferred Kerry to Bush by a margin of 54%-45%.
27Generational Politics Life-cycle effectsMaturationRole transitionPeriod effectsGreat DepressionVietnam War9/11Cohort effects“Greatest Generation,”Silent Generation,Baby Boomers,Generation X,Reagan Babies,"A man who is not a socialist at 20 has no heart; a man who is still a socialist at 40 has no head."—Winston Churchill
30Voter Turnout by AgeVoter turnoutChronological age
31How Apathetic?In 2000, an annual survey of freshmen in the colleges and universities across the country found that:17% of students were interested in “influencing the political structure” (58% of Baby Boomers said the same in 1966).26% were interested in “keeping up with political affairs.”28% wanted to be “a community leader.”In contrast, 73% of college freshmen said they wanted to be well-off financially.
32Generations X & YToday’s younger people have been called slackers, whiners, and twenty-nothings. They’ve been said to loaf in grunge clothes and complain of having to take jobs. Their aesthetic sensibility was molded by “The Simpsons.” They’re too busy watching MTV and playing video games to care about politics.Is this a fair description?If it is accurate to call “Reagan Babies” apathetic, is what we see a life-cycle or a cohort effect? Are today’s young people likely to become more political active as they age, or is this generation less committed to politics because of events they have experienced?As children of normal politics, are young people ripe for realignment?
36I Cannot Be ChartedI am the youth vote. And I'm tired of being preached at, studied and wooed. I want to be educated, listened to and, most of all, respected.Everyone has a theory as to why I don't vote, but no one really asks me. So I'll explain.I am neither lazy nor apathetic. I'm confused and frustrated. I am told to care about issues like Social Security and health care, when chances are high that I won't even find a job after I graduate from college. I juggle low-wage, part-time jobs or a full-time class schedule, and I'm not necessarily available on Nov. 2.I cannot be accurately represented by percentages and statistics. I cannot be graphed and charted. I am not a Democrat, Republican or other. I'm a mixed bag of experiences and influences, and no one can predict how I will vote when I do vote.I am not ignorant. I know what's going in the world—even if I hear it mostly from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." And yes, at times I do care more about the latest episode of "The Sopranos" than the headline news. That's because I live the headline news. I know about poverty and crime. I live it every day.I am not disengaged, I'm worn out. Sometimes I feel that no matter how I vote, there will still be war, crime and poverty. And I have other things on my mind. I am worried about skin cancer, drunken drivers, eating disorders, what I'm going to be when I grow up, how I'm going to get there and what I'm going to do Friday night.
37I Cannot Be Charted by TRACI E. CARPENTER Newsweek, July 12, 2004 I don't know the difference between President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry because they don't take time out from kissing babies and the behinds of corporate executives to tell me. Anyway, sex scandals, wars based on false pretenses and broken promises have left me cynical about all politicians.Howard Dean tried to change my mind about the political process. He made me a part of his campaign, rather than a target. He recognized the power I hold, rather than ignoring my potential.I am active on campuses across the country, but this part of me is recognized only as a minority--a few bright stars in an otherwise dark night.I am not a dark knight. I will not ride in on my horse come November and steal the election for one candidate or another. I don't know if I will even really vote at all. But I do know that I am 48 million strong. And if someone would just reach out to me--not just during election years, but every day--I would show them overwhelming support at the polls.I am the youth vote.by TRACI E. CARPENTERNewsweek, July 12, 2004
38Voter Turnout by Age Voter turnout Delayed maturation? Today, the average age of first-time brides is 25, compared with an average age of 21 in For first-time grooms, the average age is 27.5, compared with an average age of 24 in 1964.Chronological age
40The American Voter (1960)Partisan identification is learned through pre-adult socializationIt is an enduring psychological attachment, a point of self-referenceThis view has been under attack ever since…
41Key Questions How changeable is a voter’s partisan identification? Do feelings of partisanship respond to current political events (e.g., a “running tally”)?How loyal are self-described partisans?Has there been a rise in the number of Independents?
42Partisan Identification “Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?”“Would you call yourself a strong [DEMOCRAT/REPUBLICAN] or a not very strong [DEMOCRAT/REPUBLICAN]?”[IF INDEPENDENT, NO PREFERENCE, or OTHER] “Do you think of yourself as closer to the Republican Party or to the Democratic Party?”Do all Independents belong in the middle of the political spectrum?Strong DemocratWeak DemocratLean DemocratIndependentLean RepublicanWeak RepublicanStrong Republican
43Trends in Partisan Identification, 1952-2004 Including “Leaners” Source: National Election Studies, various years.
44Trends in Partisan Identification, 1952-2004 Excluding “Leaners” Source: National Election Studies, various years.
45Democratic Expected Vote in Presidential Elections, 1952-2004 Source: National Election Studies, various years.
47ConsequencesParty identification encourages an active interest in politics.Once formed, party identification acts as a short-cut or cue.It also serves as a filter or perceptual screen, shaping other more specific attitudes, including evaluations of office holders.
48Changes in Party Identification, Pre- to Post-Election Final Pre-Election Poll First Post-Election PollYearDemRepDem - Rep Gap Dem%20063431+33524+1120043738-3200225-6200029+63628+81998+519964030+10+91994-81992
49Reagan DemocratsThe term “Reagan Democrats” refers to a group of voters (composed largely of white, ethnic, blue collar, Northerners) who continued to identify with the Democratic Party while voting for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.
50Key Questions How changeable is a voter’s partisan identification? Do feelings of partisanship respond to current political events (e.g., a “running tally”)?How loyal are self-described partisans?Has there been a rise in the number of Independents?
51Trends in Partisan Identification, 1952-2004 Excluding “Leaners” Source: National Election Studies, various years.
52A Rise in Independents?Not all respondents classified as “Independents” label themselves that way.Most independents are, in fact, “hidden” partisans.
53“Nothing in that respect. I don’t consider myself anything politically “I ain’t none of them.”“None.”“Not anything.”[Laughs] “You should call me nothing.”“No preference.”“I don’t think of myself as anything.”“It depends.”“I’m an American.”“May the best man win. It’s the best candidate.”“I’m someone who believes in what I believe is a good man who will do the most for the country.”I’m not a Republican, not a Democrat, not an Independent, and not a Communist.”I’m nothing. I don’t holler about it.”[Interviewer asks if the respondent would call himself an Independent.] “You don’t mean one of those minority groups?”“Oh hell, I don’t know.”Each of these respondents was ultimately classified as an “Independent.”
54Party Identifiers Voting for Their Party’s Presidential Candidate 19681972197619801984198819921996Strong Democrats85%73%91%86%87%93%96%Weak Democrats5848746067706982Independents, closer to Democrats52724579887176Independents--Independents, closer to Republicans868392846268Weak Republicans907793Strong Republicans9697988794
55Trends in Partisan Identification, 1952-2004 Including “Leaners” Source: National Election Studies, various years.
58Partisan Identification Partisan identification has been called the “most important single influence on political opinions and voting behavior.” It is defined by these characteristics:Partisanship is often learned early in life from our parents through a process of socialization, and (at least theoretically) it grows stronger with age;It is a psychological attachment that is both affective and cognitive in nature. As such it is a point of self-reference, largely independent of formal membership, that is surprising stable over the course of our lives;It acts as a filter, or perceptual screen—a framework through which we experience and understand politics. It simplifies our voting behavior by providing a necessary “short cut,” and conditions our political interest and our willingness to participate actively in politics;
59Partisan Identification “Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?”“Would you call yourself a strong [DEMOCRAT/REPUBLICAN] or a not very strong [DEMOCRAT/REPUBLICAN]?”[IF INDEPENDENT, NO PREFERENCE, or OTHER] “Do you think of yourself as closer to the Republican Party or to the Democratic Party?”Strong DemocratWeak DemocratLean DemocratIndependentLean RepublicanWeak RepublicanStrong Republican
60A Rise in Independents?Not all respondents classified as “Independents” label themselves that way.Most independents are, in fact, “hidden” partisans.
61Scholars typically measure partisan identification using a series of questions, the first being: “Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, or what?” It’s a close ended question. But despite that structure, respondents still give answers that are all over the place—answers that are difficult to code. Here are some examples from the interview protocols:Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, or what?“Nothing in that respect. I don’t consider myself anything politically.”“I ain’t none of them.”“None.”“Not anything.”[Laughs] “You should call me nothing.”“No preference.”“I don’t think of myself as anything.”“It depends.”“I’m an American.”“May the best man win. It’s the best candidate.”“I’m someone who believes in what I believe is a good man who will do the most for the country.”I’m not a Republican, not a Democrat, not an Independent, and not a Communist.”I’m nothing. I don’t holler about it.”[Interviewer asks if the respondent would call himself an Independent.] “You don’t mean one of those minority groups?”“Oh hell, I don’t know.”Each of these respondents was ultimately classified as an “Independent.”
62Who likes Hillary Clinton? Overall, the public is split precisely down the middle when asked whether its opinions of Clinton are favorable or unfavorable.There are four major variables highly related to opinions of Clinton: race, the respondent's party identification, the respondent's self-reported ideology, and gender (in that order).
63ConsequencesParty identification colors our perception of individuals and events.Research suggests that party identifiers adjust, or project, their perceptions of where the parties stand to suit their own preferences.Party identification is more rationalizing than rational.
65The Two AmericasWhat divides Americans is authenticity, not something hard and ugly like economics. While liberals commit endless acts of hubris, sucking down lattes, driving ostentatious European cars, and trying to reform the world, the humble people of the red states go about their unpretentious business, eating down-home foods, vacationing in the Ozarks, whistling while they work, feeling comfortable about who they are, and knowing they are secure under the watch of George W. Bush, a man they love as one of their own.— Thomas Frank
67“A Victory for People Like Us” In the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, the Washington Post reporter David Finkel interviewed white evangelical voters in the small town of Sheffield, Ohio. The Leslie family had seen its annual income drop from $55,000 in 2001 to $35,000 in It did not affect their vote: "Jobs will come and go," said Cary Leslie, "but your character — you have to hang on to that. It's what you're defined by." As far as they were concerned, that's what defined the president. "To know that he prays," Cary's wife, Tara Leslie, "and I really believe he does — that's a huge thing." Cary summed up his interpretation of the election in a simple sentence: "It's a victory for people like us."
68The Two AmericasWhy is it so puzzling that people vote their convictions rather than their pocketbooks?— Jon A. Shields
69Presidential Voting and Economic Growth Retrospective voting on the economy provides an information short-cut.
70Perceived Economic Conditions, 1980-2004 Perceptions of the economy mattered in 1992, more than reality.Source: National Election Study, various years.
71Newspaper Headlines following the 2004 Presidential Election FAITH, VALUES FUELED WIN (The Chicago Tribune)VALUES VOTERS’ KEY TO BUSH RE-ELECTION (Fort Worth Star Telegram)MORAL VALUES CITED AS A DEFINING ISSUE OF THE ELECTION (The New York Times)‘MORAL VALUES’ WERE A PRIORITY FOR VOTERS (Minneapolis Star Tribune)MORAL VALUES DREW VOTERS TO BUSH (Buffalo News)All of these analyses were based on the same question from the same exit poll…
722004 Exit Poll ResultsSince “moral values” outranked all other issues in the 2004 exit poll, some argue that Bush won re-election because of a legion of religious voters. Others call it a myth.
74What are “Moral Values”? Being against gay marriage?Opposing stem cell research?Opposing abortion?Helping the poor?Withdrawing troops from Iraq?Character attributes of the candidates?Some argue that the “moral values” controversy rests on a single “dodgy” exit poll question…
75Kerry’s “God Problem”According to columnist Amy Sullivan, the Democrats have a religion problem. According to a recent Time magazine poll, only 7% of Americans think that John Kerry is a man of “strong religious faith”– this, in a country in which 70% of voters say that they want their president to be a “man of faith.”
76The Fault Lines of Religious Belief The lines connecting religious belief and political affiliation have undergone a major shift since the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the Republican party was dominated by mainline Protestants and the Democratic Party was essentially a coalition of Catholics, Jews, and white evangelicals. Since then, notes John Green, a University of Akron political scientist and expert in religious voting behavior, there has been a mass exodus of evangelicals to the Republican Party. In 2000, for example, Bush garnered a whopping 85% of the votes cast by conservative evangelicals, a/k/a the “Religious Right.” A large number of Catholics—particularly white non-Hispanic Catholics—have shifted Republican as well.
77The Fault Lines of Religious Belief Evangelicals may be theologically conservative, but they have not always been politically conservative.
78Evangelical voters are becoming increasingly concerned with a variety of issues: the Iraq War, the environment, torture, poverty, etc.—things that put them at odds with the president’s agenda.Indeed, some argue that it is no longer accurate to identify “evangelical” with “religious right.”
79But will Christian evangelicals defect from the Republican Party? According to a leaked , Fred Thompson has "no passion, no zeal."Christian evangelicals do not like Mitt Romney’s Mormonism.Evangelicals oppose Rudy Giuliani for his views on abortion and his rocky personal history
80Trends in Religiosity“How important would you say religion is in your own life—very important, fairly important, or not very important?”
82What are “Moral Values”? In a November 2004 Pew Research Center poll, respondents were asked “What one issue mattered most to you in deciding how you voted for president?” Half of those participating were read a close-ended list of options identical to those used on the exit poll. Under those conditions, 27% said moral values, 22% Iraq, and 21% jobs and the economy. The other half were asked for open-ended responses to the question. This time, 25% said the Iraq, 12% jobs and the economy, and just 9% moral values. But regardless of how the question was asked, the survey showed that moral values were the most frequently cited issue for Bush voters, but were seldom mentioned by Kerry voters.In the Pew poll, 44% of those who chose moral values as the most important factor in their vote said the term related to specific concerns over social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage. However, others did not cite specific policy issues, and instead pointed to factors like the candidates' personal qualities (e.g., honesty, integrity, trustworthiness) or made general allusions to religion and values.In short, the definition of “moral values” is in the eye of the beholder… Gary Langer, polling director for ABC News, later argued that “this hot-button catch phrase had no place alongside defined political issues on the list of most important concerns in the 2004 vote. Its presence there created a deep distortion—one that threatens to misinform the political discourse for years to come.”
87Necessary Conditions for Issue Voting Awareness of issueIntensity of feelingPerception of party differencesWillingness to override partisan identificationWhich issues are most likely to meet these conditions?
88Necessary Conditions for Issue Voting Voters must be aware of the issue and form an opinion about it that meets some minimal level of intensity. In general, the stronger the intensity of an attitude, the more likely someone is to act on it;Voters must know the issue positions of the candidates or their parties and be aware of differences between them;Finally, they must be willing to vote on the basis of issues that divide the candidates, and not on some other criteria, such as party identification, or candidate charisma.Which issues are most likely to meet these conditions?
89Presidential Voting and Economic Growth Retrospective voting on the economy provides an information short-cut.2008
95Why Don’t Americans Vote Green? Low issue salienceSmall perceived differences between candidates on matters of environmental policyThe tendency of environmental concern to cut across traditional (and more powerful) cleavages, including partisan identification
96Is the environment a salient political issue? Environmental concern only influences the vote when those attitudes are highly salient
97Do political candidates take clear and opposing positions on the environment? Greenwashing
98Partisanship and environmental concern can pull voters in opposite directions…
99Partisanship and the Environment in the 1996 Presidential Election Tougher regulations on business needed to protect the environmentRegulations to protect environment already too much of a burden on businessENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION SCALE
101Candidate Evaluations “Maybe a nation that consumes as much booze and dope as we do and has our kind of divorce statistics should pipe down about ‘character issues.’ Either that or just go ahead and determine the presidency with three-legged races and pie-eating contests. It would make better TV.”— P. J. O'Rourke
102Candidate Evaluations There is at least one enduring truth in the study of voting behavior—citizens vote in overwhelming numbers for the presidential candidate they like the most. Candidates are important in at least two ways—In the traits they convey (e.g., honesty, trustworthiness, intelligence);In the feelings they evoke (e.g., anger, hope, pride, fear);
103Presidential Debates 1960: Kennedy/Nixon debate 1988: Kitty Dukakis question1992: Clinton/Bush on the economy2000: Gore’s personality2004: Kerry as a “flip-flopper,” Bush’s body language
1061980: Putting It All Together HYPOTHESIS #1Reagan won because of his policy positionsHYPOTHESIS #2Carter lost because of widespread dissatisfaction with his performance in office
1071980: Putting It All Together Reagan won because of his policy positions. He earned a mandate to bring about several fundamental changes in the role of the government in American social and economic life (e.g., reduced government spending and taxes; an expansion of the national defense)Carter lost because he was the victim of several unfortunate events—a devastating combination of inflation and growing unemployment; unsuccessful energy and foreign policies; the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Carter’s handling of these problems resulted in a repudiation of the incumbent President’s leadership skills, which paved the way for Reagan’s ascension to power.
108Trends in Partisan Identification During the 1980 Presidential Campaign Trends in party identification during the 1980 campaign showed the persistence of a Democratic plurality
109Assessments of Spending Levels of Selected Government Programs, 1980 Few respondents thought that government spending was too high on social programs
110Issue Proximities on Defense Spending, 1980 The average voter in 1980 was closer to Reagan’s position on defense spending, than Carter’s.Reduce spendingIncrease spending
111Comparative Assessment of Candidate Attributes, 1980 Reagan was a stronger candidate than Carter.Carter strongerReagan strongerSolve economic problemsProvide strong leadershipMaintain good foreign relationsStrongInformedHonestNOTE: Each entry is the proportion of those giving Carter a favorable rating minus the proportion giving Reagan a favorable rating.
1121992: Putting It All Together HYPOTHESIS #1:The Perot factorHYPOTHESIS #2:Bush lost because of lingering anxieties over the state of the economyHYPOTHESIS #3:Bush lost because of his handling of the Persian Gulf WarHYPOTHESIS #4:Clinton won because he marketed himself as a new kind of DemocratHYPOTHESIS #5:Clinton won because he connected well with voters, while Bush was unappealing
1131992: Putting It All Together Party identification was less important in The Perot factor meant that an unusually high proportion of voters did not vote for their party’s candidate. Meanwhile, Republicans were less loyal to Bush. Clinton captured the vote of moderates who had voted for Reagan and Bush over the past three elections (including the so-called Reagan-Democrats).The economy was the most important issue in In 1992, 73% felt that economic conditions had gotten worse over the past year. Bill Clinton successfully marketed himself as a different kind of Democrat.Candidate appeal worked to Bush’s disadvantage. His thermometer score in 1992 was 52.3—the second lowest of all major-party nominees since 1968 (only George McGovern’s was lower). The Gulf War had raised Bush’s popularity, but it did not last long. Saddam Hussein was still in power and Bush looked like an indecisive leader. He was also harmed when he broke his “no new taxes” pledge. Nearly half of those polled said they felt “angry” and “afraid” when they thought about Bush. In contrast, Clinton evoked feelings of hope, compassion, and empathy. He was also seen as the candidate who was “inspiring” and who could “get things done.” The only area in which Bush swamped Clinton was in “integrity” and “morality”—never Clinton’s strong suit.
1142000: Putting It All Together Because of peace and prosperity, most econometric models of the race predicted a Gore win at somewhere between 53% to 60%. His actual total was closer to 49%. The conditions Gore faced were favorable to the incumbent president’s party, and as its standard bearer he should have received credit for it, but he did not. He fell well short of expectations. Why?
1152000: Putting It All Together HYPOTHESIS #1:Blame Nader!HYPOTHESIS #2:Gore lost because he distanced himself from Clinton as a person, which cost him a platform based on peace and prosperityHYPOTHESIS #3:Gore’s notoriously aloof personality turned voters offHYPOTHESIS #4:Gore lost because he ran too far to the leftHYPOTHESIS #5:Gore lost because of “Clinton fatigue”
1162000: Putting It All Together HYPOTHESIS #1: Blame Nader. Unlike with Perot, the third party challenge in 2000 came from the left, siphoning off votes for Gore.HYPOTHESIS #2: Gore's notoriously aloof personality turned voters off. There is little evidence to support that conclusion, however. Data tell us that voters were rather lukewarm towards both candidates in 2000.HYPOTHESIS #3: Gore lost because he ran too far to the “left.” Clinton was a centrist Democratic, while Gore was an old-fashioned liberal. According to a recent study published by Morris Fiorina, Gore’s politics probably cost him about 4% of the vote—enough to lose the election, perhaps, but not quite enough to explain all of the expectations gap.HYPOTHESIS #4: Gore lost because of “Clinton fatigue.” Tired of Clinton's sex scandals, voters decided (belatedly) to punish someone, even if it wasn’t the right man. Apparently, this is Gore’s own explanation for what happened. But it doesn’t let him off the hook completely. Traditionally, elections hinge on fundamentals like peace and prosperity, which are either credited or blamed to the incumbent president and his party. In Gore's case, he avoided running on those issues because he feared associating with Clinton. He feared that voters wouldn’t be able to separate the good (peace and prosperity) from the bad (sex scandals), so it was best to avoid running on the Clinton record at all. That was probably a mistake—as Clinton has enjoyed pointing out later. It probably cost Gore another 3-4 percentage points.
118NES Thermometer Scales Average feeling thermometer rating towards the candidates in 2000:Al Gore: 57°George W. Bush: 56°
1192004: Putting It All Together HYPOTHESIS #1:Bush won because of the continued threat of terrorism—largely in spite of Iraq, not because of itHYPOTHESIS #2:Bush won because of a much smaller “gender gap” (e.g., security Moms)HYPOTHESIS #3:Bush won because of “moral values,” which drove high turnout among Christian evangelicals (e.g., gay marriage)HYPOTHESIS #4:Kerry lost because the “youth vote” failed to materializeHYPOTHESIS #5:Kerry lost because he never connected with voters, and because he was seen as weak, and as a dishonest flip-flopper